Public Health Groups Encouraged by New Agreement for TB Drug

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Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) 

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Public Health Groups Encouraged by New Agreement for TB Drug

 Urgent Call for Global Access to TB medications

WASHINGTON, DC--December 9, 2020--Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and a coalition of partner organizations welcome today’s announcement of a new sublicense by the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute (MRI) from the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The license will expedite investigations of the potentially life-saving compound Sutezolid, under development for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB).

In January 2017, Sutezolid was successfully licensed to the MPP from Johns Hopkins University as a result of a multi-year campaign led by UAEM students in collaboration with Treatment Action Group (TAG), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Access Campaign, the Global TB Community Advisory Board (TB CAB), and Public Citizen. The move was the first of its kind for a U.S. university and critical in the fight for global access and treating the infectious disease, complemented by a license negotiated between Pfizer and the MPP in 2019 to facilitate access to the pre-clinical and clinical data Pfizer collected on Sutezolid before granting rights to these data and further development to Sequella in 2013. 

“It has been six years since my classmates and I advocated for Johns Hopkins to ensure accessibility to Sutezolid. I hope that this license will be an important step towards ensuring those who need access to TB treatment most will finally be able to benefit from my alma mater’s discovery,” said Alexandra Greenberg, UAEM Global Executive Committee member, and JHU alumna. 

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), is a United Nations-backed program focused on increasing access to and facilitating the development of life-saving medications in low and middle-income countries. The rights to develop Sutezolid in combination for the treatment of TB and pre-clinical and clinical data have now transferred hands several times. In 2013, Sequella had exclusive rights to the pre-clinical and clinical data, which Pfizer then transferred to MPP last year.  

“The issuing of this sublicense is an important step in making the benefits of Sutezolid accessible to all. We hope to see continued measures to ensure affordability of treatment regimens that include this drug,” said Peter Maybarduk, Director of Access to Medicines at Public Citizen. 

“With this sub-license, the MPP has unlocked access to pre-clinical and clinical data previously only privileged to Pfizer and Sequella that are critically necessary to expediting the further development of Sutezolid for TB,” commented Lindsay McKenna, Co-Director of the TB Project at Treatment Action Group. “Sutezolid has a potentially important role to play in the next generation of regimens for TB, including as a safer alternative to Linezolid, which has demonstrated increasing importance in the treatment of drug-resistant TB, but comes with challenging toxicities at high doses.”

"If we are to end the Tuberculosis epidemic we will need more new drugs and regimens, and for them to be developed with the sharing of data and intellectual property using mechanisms such as the Medicines Patent Pool to support their timely development and access. We welcome this announcement and look forward to following the progress of Sutezolid through the clinical trials supported by the Gates MRI,” said Grania Brigden, Director, Tuberculosis Department, The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

In 2020, Tuberculosis is still one of the leading causes of infectious disease transmission and death, and there is an urgent need for new medicines to treat drug-resistant strains. The impact of COVID-19 on the TB response is already significant, leading to a reduction in detection which according to the World Health Organization could lead to a setback to the levels of TB mortality of 5 years ago. Better drugs are urgently needed to address this growing global health challenge. TB is treated with regimens rather than a single medicine. Current treatments for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) still lead to some challenging toxicities and side effects. The development of new drugs for TB like Sutezolid is critical to the advancement of safer and effective TB treatment regimens. 

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About Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM): rooted in a global movement of university students in 20 countries UAEM aims to (1) promote access to medicines and medical innovations where barriers exist primarily by changing norms and practices around academic patenting and licensing, supported by our own independent research, (2) ensure that university medical research meets the needs of people worldwide and actively supports the creation of new needs-based approaches to R&D and (3) empower students to respond to the biomedical access and innovation crisis by advocating for the most promising global biomedical R&D system that works for all. http://www.uaem.org

About Public Citizen: Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. https://www.citizen.org

About Treatment Action Group (TAG): TAG is an independent, activist, and community-based research and policy think tank fighting for treatment, prevention, a vaccine, and a cure for HIV, Tuberculosis (TB), and Hepatitis C (Hep C) viruses. TAG works to ensure that all people with HIV, TB, and HCV receive life saving treatment, care, and information. We are science-based treatment activists working to expand and accelerate vital research and effective community engagement with research and policy institutions. https://www.treatmentactiongroup.org